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8,127 Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

We read all the reviews. We have a balcony cabin it is great, yes the shower is small but really it is good. The staff have been fantastic The food is good, really good. The buffers have everything thing you could need The beds ... Read More
We read all the reviews. We have a balcony cabin it is great, yes the shower is small but really it is good. The staff have been fantastic The food is good, really good. The buffers have everything thing you could need The beds are comfortable and bangs fit under the beds This is our second msc cruise and it is just plain good Value When we read the reviews we were suspicious, but on board we have been pleasantly surprised We are not looking for a party cruise we are looking for relaxation and good food. We had the fantastica package, this gave us a basic range of drinks, but the wines are good Overall we are very happy. The breads are great as are the snacks, pizza etc The restaurant meals were well presented and there was a range of seating so you could have an intimate meal with your spouse or sit with a group of people The buffets were busy and the normal push and shove by the Italians and the poms but this is normal. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
The excursions were fairly good and so was the food and servers. Everything else was horrible. The beauty salon was awful, terrible communication skills and high pressure staff, like your money was their personal piggy bank. The cabin ... Read More
The excursions were fairly good and so was the food and servers. Everything else was horrible. The beauty salon was awful, terrible communication skills and high pressure staff, like your money was their personal piggy bank. The cabin steward was obviously so badly trained he put dirty sheets with bedbugs on the bed. The Reception staff customer service skills were horrible, assumptions like offers to clean luggage as though I brought the bedbugs aboard, nasty responses to tired travelers in a bad mood, that you’re a bum if you forgot to register a credit card early on instead of a courteous reminder. There was garbage, water leaks and construction debris in the halls most of the time. At one point at dinner, the air had the smell of Depends undergarments and I had to leave before I puked. On one tour, woman behind me rudely talked on phone making hearing the guide impossible but the guide refused to address it. Found a bug on the table after room service arrived once. If you like nightmares, MSC is your best bet. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Not our first cruise but our first time cruising over Christmas, so we were looking forward with great excitement. We booked in November 2018 and paid £1200 each for myself and my wife as this was going to the holy land. although ... Read More
Not our first cruise but our first time cruising over Christmas, so we were looking forward with great excitement. We booked in November 2018 and paid £1200 each for myself and my wife as this was going to the holy land. although neither of us are religious the history of the area is compelling and would make it a once in a lifetime visit. We have sailed with Marrella/Thomson/TUI on several occasions before and on the Dream twice previous. The ship was showing signs of its age and the decor was also dated with the only changes from the first time we sailed being a few coats of paint. The first let down was at Manchester Airport when we had to check in our own bags. Then when we arrived at the cruise port in Cyprus the checking system was ramshackle with only 2 staff on hand to hand out the welcome packs in what could only be described as a small shed. When we reached the gang way to the ship we were greeted by one fairly bored and disinterested crew member. Our cabin was on deck 7 which was one of the requested decks at time of booking but turned out that cabin we had been allocated was directly under the stage in one of the main bars. The beds were 2 singles and the room decor was again showing signs of the boats age with the toilet not flushing and flooding the bathroom twice in the first 2 days. Several times f the public restrooms had broken sinks or hand dryers out of order for the cruises duration. The staff seemed to be holiday mode this could have been due to the fact the ship was on its final trip due to it going into dry dock after our cruise was finished and all the staff going home after the season. The catering was also poor as no fresh food was loaded onboard all week and as such fresh fruit was scarce. We found out talking to others that they had sold better rooms at a cheaper price but against n no one seemed to have been told prior that the ship was into dry dock for a refit and maybe there would be some disruptions All in all a not so merry Xmas and a let down all round from TUI Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We have just returned from the Ancient Affair cruise, departing from Limassol and calling at Alanya, Marmaris, Heraklion and Haifa. We did not have an auspicious start as, upon arrival at Paphos airport, we were left in a queue in the ... Read More
We have just returned from the Ancient Affair cruise, departing from Limassol and calling at Alanya, Marmaris, Heraklion and Haifa. We did not have an auspicious start as, upon arrival at Paphos airport, we were left in a queue in the coach park while a TUI member of staff had to locate our driver. We would have been less than impressed if it hadn't just stopped raining. Once on board the coach, the transfer from Paphos to Limassol took around 1 hour. Embarkation was easier than I had anticipated and our cases arrived at our cabin very quickly indeed. The paperwork in our cabin said that the muster drill would take place at 9 p.m. We decided to explore some of the ship and had stopped in the Water's Edge Bar for a quick drink when one of the waiters came over and told us that the drill had started. There was no announcement over the tannoy (or if there was, it wasn't loud enough). We proceeded to our muster station to be confronted with what must have been the most disorganised and polntless drill we have ever experienced. No one demonstrated how to put on a life jacket, there was no demonstration of what the alarm sounded like and what one should do in a real emergency and no one was properly checking who had attended and who hadn't. We might as well not have bothered and I am not sure the shambles we winessed would actually comply with maritime regulations. Since the drill was next to the buffet, we decided to grab something to eat there. The food in the buffet is some of the worst we have had on our 10 or so cruises. However, the experience in the Orion restaurant was much better and the food was very good indeed (although I do think it is a bit cheeky to charge an extra £9.95 if you want a steak). The entertainment on the whole was pretty good, and the all inclusive drinks package more than covered our requirements. The drinks were plentiful, measures generous and no feeling of being limited. New Year's Eve was a great night. The main dining room looked very festive and the food very good. The deck party was fantastic and the atmosphere great. We enjoyed it very much. The only port in which we booked excursions was Haifa (having been changed from Ashdod). We ended up doing the overnight experience and had an absolutely fantastic time. The guide was great, the overnight hotel wonderful and we packed in so much that we felt it well worth the cost. The stand out point on this ship is without doubt the crew who were absolutely lovely and couldn't do enough for you. It was also one of the friendliest cruises we have experienced. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Before I say anything else, I must say how friendly and helpful all the staff we encountered were. They all had a smile and friendly greeting. They made the whole cruise so much more enjoyable and despite anything you may perceive ... Read More
Before I say anything else, I must say how friendly and helpful all the staff we encountered were. They all had a smile and friendly greeting. They made the whole cruise so much more enjoyable and despite anything you may perceive as negative you read below, we had a fabulous time and intend to cruise with Marella/Tui again. We went on the Christmas Day departure cruise to Turkey and Israel but this is a review of the ship not the destinations, having said that we berthed within walking distance of the towns (except in Cyprus) and so had hassle free visits. Basic ship facts that you need to know which unfortunately seem lacking on the Tui website or brochures: The currency on board is £ Sterling. The power sockets in the cabins are 2 pin / 240v so bring adapters. There were 2 USB ports by the bed and 2 in our lounge but don’t know if the other cabins had them. Room service food is chargeable (unlike many other cruise ships we have been on where it is free). Wifi is NOT free, you can get a 7 day pass, limited to a miserly maximum of only 1200 mb overall, for the princely sum of £ 50.00 Not all drinks are included in your basic price but that’s not really an issue as the prices are not expensive. They do not give out any paper deck plans so if you have a brochure with them in at home bring it with you. Having said that most facilities were all in deck 8 or 11 and after the first evening we knew where everything was as we explored everywhere. Room safes which are big enough for iPads or small lap tops are now free. Yes there is a nightly bed turndown service with a chocolate on your pillow. Your onboard ID card does not open your cabin, you have a separate plastic card with holes punched in it. Embarkation was swift but we did get off the transfer coach promptly. We should have had priority check in but I forgot to ask about it and the nobody asked me either. (This is part of the Premiere Service pack) Our cabin: There are only a handful of balcony cabins on this ship, unfortunately we booked too late to get one. We had cabin 7062 which is a suite with a separate bedroom and lounge. A fruit basket, chocolate covered strawberries and 2 bottles of fizz awaited us which was a nice welcome. It had a walk in wardrobe with masses of storage everywhere and more than sufficient cost hangers. If fact there was so much storage I forgot where I had put some things. The irony was that the one place a drawer would have been useful, ie: the bedside table there was not. The bed was made up of two single mattresses but with a double duvet. I liked that there was no profusion of useless cushions which seem to annoyingly appear on many hotel and cruise ship beds nowadays. The lounge area had a couple of hidden fold down berths, so the suite could sleep 4 guests. Two big sofas, a coffee table, a flat screen tv, DVD player and a generous sliding desk area which could double as a dining table for two made the lounge very practical and comfortable. The bathroom actually had a large walk in shower where originally the bath had been. I like relaxing in a bath, so was a little disappointed as our travel agent stated there was a bath with shower over it. There was plenty of hot water and the cosmetics were better than I was expecting. The towels were rather on the small size. 2 x bathrobes but no slippers. The shower water is not heavily chlorinated like on some ships (Cunard for example) so no itchy dry skin. Our steward named Gusti, very unobtrusively, made up our bed and cleaned up the suite almost as if by magic when we were ashore or having breakfast etc. If you wanted to get to bed before midnight this was not a good cabin position as the music and singing from the Medusa bar on the deck above was often excessive. It must have been ear damaging in the bar itself. However on the stroke of midnight silence prevailed apart from the crying baby we could hear through the thin cabin walls. Food: We had dinner in the Orion main restaurant on our first evening. The table layout was good and the way the tableware was presented plus an attractive looking menu choice increased our expectations. Unfortunately although the staff were hard working, service was slow and the food mediocre at best. My partner’s scallop linguine was sweet & virtually inedible. My roast beef although tasty was only lukewarm. To their credit the staff were concerned and in record time produced another main course of salmon to replace the pasta. Breakfast orange juice was better than I was expecting, the toast was wrapped in a napkin in a basket to keep it warm, however coffee took ages to arrive. My eggs benedict were acceptable but again not particularly hot and the portions of bacon and hollandaise sauce minuscule. We didn’t have breakfast there again. Lunch on several other occasions was better but they seem to have a problem getting the main courses out hot and not just warm. Although some of the waiters are really hard working, others need a little more direction and this can only come from better supervision and training. However on New Years’s Eve everything seemed to come together, service food and the table decoration made it a memorable evening. We tried the Hot Stone (extra charge) restaurant one evening. We were really made to feel welcome and special. The novelty here is that you cook the meat yourself on a hot rock bought to your table. I recommend the surf and turf (steak and lobster tail). Marko, Joel and Juliet were a superb team and the food amazing. We promptly booked again. Mistrals (extra charge) restaurant was also very enjoyable and the dessert was made very memorable - but I won’t spoil the surprise. We ate here twice so it must have made a good impression but some of the service could do with a bit more finesse to complete the fine dining experience such as a teapot rather than a cup of hot water and a teabag, not having to order dessert when ordering mains etc and better quality coffee. Kora La, the Asian themed (extra charge) restaurant looked lovely but we didn’t eat there so can’t really say anything. We look forward to trying it next time. The other inclusive restaurants such as The Lido or Sirens were great for breakfast with a view. Explorers Lounge for coffee anytime and alcoholic beverages after 6 pm was friendly and cosy with a piano player too. The staff were lovely and remembered our preferences and cabin number. It was our favourite watering hole. Try the hot chocolate, it really is the best! Premium drinks package: This costs approx £50 per person per week. You get excellent ‘Lavazza’ brand coffee and fabulous hot chocolate at no extra charge in the Explorers Lounge (otherwise approx £1.20 ish) and a better range of alcoholic cocktails, spirits and beers. Plus a bootle of water per day in your cabin. To make it pay you would really need to have at least a couple of these cocktails and coffees a day as the already inclusive range is pretty good anyway. We would not go for it on our next cruise. Premier Service: This really is all about marketing as the benefits are not great yet Tui staff are told to mention it as something special and worthwhile, I think even they are embarrassed about it. Good job they don’t try and make an extra charge for it. Marella brand: It would appear that Tui can’t quite let go and allow Marella be an independent brand. Staff would look a lot smarter in dark blue uniforms than the yucky, not quite sky blue they are currently attired in. Entertainment: There is a fair amount going on each day and the cruise director liked to make a point of telling everyone very loudly on the ship’s public announcement at noon, right after the very quiet (almost a whisper in comparison) daily report from the Bridge. Having said that he really is a great guy when you meet him and impossible not to like. The pianist Keith, is excellent and on New Year’s Eve he surprised with a fabulous singing voice. We sat in only briefly to a couple of the singing acts in the bars and thought they were good and certainly well appreciated by the audiences. We especially liked the duo Tom & Maris, who are unfortunately moving to a different ship. The resident singer and instrumentalists who were in the Medusa bar were far too loud for us to stay for more than a couple of songs. We watched two shows in the Broadway Theatre and were impressed by the energy, talent and professionalism of the show team. The theatre itself is one two levels and they have not sacrificed quality and comfort of the the seating for quantity like some ships. Most of the seats have excellent site lines and are comfortable, some have tables too, just watch out for the odd pillar. Marella really went to town for their New Year party with great music, ice sculpture, party poppers etc and of course lots of complimentary fizz. The only thing missing was the traditional count down. Anyway everyone had an amazing time with no one over doing the drinking etc. Decks: Deck 9 is great for walking around the ship and felt very ocean liner like. The ship has 2 swimming pools both filled with salt water - not heated and some lovely warm jacuzzis. They main pool has a retractable roof which is a fabulous idea. The sun deck and sun bar hidden away near the funnel look very classy and have some great seating plus a couple of hammocks too. Final Bill: This was cheap, detailed and most importantly accurate. No problems. Disembarkation: I was not looking forward to this as usually you need to put your suitcases outside your cabin the night before and vacate your cabins early and our flight was not until early evening. As usual any information about this before the cruise or even until the day before from Tui or the ship was unobtainable. As it happened the ship was going off for a 2 month refit and no more passengers were coming aboard so we could keep our cabin until we departed and all the restaurants were open as usual. I doubt things would always work out so well! Conclusion: Forewarned is to be forearmed they say, so if you know what to expect beforehand you won’t be disappointed. Despite reading several favourable reviews of the ship, I still had doubts but I am very pleased to say my expectations were vastly exceeded. We had a very comfortable, enjoyable, relaxing and even maybe describable as dreamy cruise. It was excellent value for money. The wonderful staff made a huge positive impact on the experience as did all the guests we interacted with. Inclusive drinks helped too, it took away the hassle of having to sign for everything and the concern of a big bar bill - it will be the future of cruising - take note Cunard! As the ship is now having a refit some things may change. We are looking forward to cruising with Marella/Tui again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
The ship is very unorganized. The food was the same every day. Front desk clerk named Barbara Uchiyama was always scowling and treating guests without the least education and attention. The tours were disorganized. The ... Read More
The ship is very unorganized. The food was the same every day. Front desk clerk named Barbara Uchiyama was always scowling and treating guests without the least education and attention. The tours were disorganized. The guides hired by MSC knew almost nothing about the tours, reaching the height of not wanting to take us to the Mount of Olives in Israel because he preferred to take it to a store that certainly earns commission. The drinks level was 0.50 cents more to force you to pay for a higher plan. Suite members, who have a golden package, have no privileges on board or on board as mentioned at the time of purchase. The only space reserved for member Aurea spent half of the trip closed for maintenance. The cleanliness of the ship's toilets was deplorable Excursion outings were tumultuous and always with guides who did not speak the languages ​​sold Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
My wife and I sailed for 2 weeks over Xmas and the New Year. The restaurants and food was excellent. The cabin service and cleanliness of the ship was good. The bar service left a lot to be desired. The first week the drinks were spoilt by ... Read More
My wife and I sailed for 2 weeks over Xmas and the New Year. The restaurants and food was excellent. The cabin service and cleanliness of the ship was good. The bar service left a lot to be desired. The first week the drinks were spoilt by adding too much mixer. One night I had a gin and tonic and it was like water. I complained to the bar manager and whilst she was very sorry she failed to resolve the complaint and passengers subsequently ordered a spirit and separate mixer. The second week I had to wait 40 minutes to get a drink. The assistant manager was also very sorry but was equally useless. The cruise was very good but the bar service let the ship down. The entertainment was OK but some of it was very dated. Roy Walker was the special guest and was very limited. The day time activities were poor. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Joined dream on 18 dec looking forward to visiting Bethlehem and Jerusalem for the Christmas period. We were on the ship for two weeks supposedly the whole itinerary since booking in September was changed we were not told about ... Read More
Joined dream on 18 dec looking forward to visiting Bethlehem and Jerusalem for the Christmas period. We were on the ship for two weeks supposedly the whole itinerary since booking in September was changed we were not told about Jerusalem and Bethlehem stop even though the ship had been doing this for the last six weeks until we got on board so that the company did not have to refund us or compensate us for yet another change. Our cabin was absolutely disgusting there was vomit on the floor which had less stains on the carpet the beds were soiled with other peoples bodily fluid the head pillows were further soiled with blood and sweat and absolutely stunk after the first night in the cabin I developed breathing difficulties from the dirty tired air-conditioning. We spoke with guest relations manager and told him we needed to leave the ship due to the breathing difficulties I was experiencing thing on board. We left the cabin that day to return to find everything of our belongings were taken from the cabin the carpet been ripped up a brand-new carpet laid and glued down the fumes from the blue further exasperated my breathing problems but as there are no further cabins on board vacant they are unable to move us the ship further even due to my illness could not get off the ship for six days and even then they wanted me to pay for my own flights home when we had £200 in our on-board spend account. They agreed after speaking to their head office that we should pay for our own flights on our card and they would then refund us are on-board credit in cash we flew back to Cardiff and had to pay for hotel accommodation there before we could do our return journey back to London. The food on board the ship was absolutely diabolical the cheapest nastiest sausages bacon thick with fat or collect together frozen vegetables cheap wines and poor quality food chicken still on the bone , stale sandwiches with curled up edges for afternoon tea sausage rolls served warm with no sausage. Every day the buffet service was an absolute feeding frenzy with very dangerous hot serving trays which are sat into a bath of boiling water when you reach into the serving tray the steam comes out and burns you on your wrist and lower arms. The ship overall condition is poor and tired and dirty the rust inside and out is very apparent and the boat creeks and moans when she’s at sea . The pollution that she puts out is unbelievable and the smell of fumes within the ship is disgraceful. The Christmas decorations on board were absolutely pathetic with a small 3 foot blowup Santer being your main feature outside your restaurant door Christmas trees were about 4 1/2 foot 5 foot tall with old-fashioned tinsel and decorations randomly thrown on the tree the whole affect was cheap and shabby. I can only like in the bars and restaurant to a good old-fashioned working men’s club. The pool area even though it was really not hot enough to sit out but not supervised properly and the only thing they had adults could use with a hot tub there are signs up saying that children were not allowed in the hot tub and supervise yet every single day the hot tub is full of children with no adults in sight now we seem to care or do anything about it the ship was full of children with very little entertainment for them on a daily basis.The pool area even though it was really not hot enough to sit out was not supervised properly and the only thing the advice dogs could use where the hot tub is there are signs up saying that children were not allowed in the hot tub and supervise yet every single day the hot tubs were full of children with no adults in sight now we seem to care or do anything about it the ship was full of children with very little entertainment for them on a daily basis Since returning home I have been confined to bed with a lung infection in both lungs having to take antibiotics and steroids daily and rest this has been contracted through poor air-conditioning and is a ongoing serious issue at this precise moment. The ship did organise a private transfer for us to the airport so we didn’t have to go on the coach with the other passages I do actually think as much as we requested this it was probably in their best interest to do this to stop me spreading any kind of infection to other passengers I might of picked up on board the ship I arrived on the ship on the 18th of December fit and healthy. Staff of the ship are way too good to be subjected to what they have to work with there all cheerful smiley bright personable people and way too good to be on the dream. I’m so sorry that I cannot add photographs to this but writing it on my mobile phone it does not give me the facility to upload the photographs of the disgusting cabin and other little treats around the ship Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We joined the Dream 4/1219 in Limassol. The itenarary originally included 2 stops in Egypt, but these were switched to Rhodes and Kusadasi instead. We were a bit disappointed but both the replacement ports were great, so no worries there. ... Read More
We joined the Dream 4/1219 in Limassol. The itenarary originally included 2 stops in Egypt, but these were switched to Rhodes and Kusadasi instead. We were a bit disappointed but both the replacement ports were great, so no worries there. TUI had also credited our onboard accounts with 100 pounds each, so that was very welcome compensation. We had a great time every day on the Dream, everyone on the crew were as happy, hardworking and helpful as always. The Medusa lounge team were great fun. David, Charlotte and Kerry ran the quizes, games and those were always good fun. The resident band in Medusa are called Luna, and they were very good. Philip the Jamaican waiter in the medusa has to be the best dancer on the ship. Amazing dance moves, plus a great guy too. He brought a big smile to everyone onboard with his sense of humour and warmth, what a guy.. Beep beep, Spread the love :-) If anyone from TUI reads this review, please reward Philip for the laughs he brings to passengers in the medusa, and also on deck 11 during daytime. We go back onto the Dream for another cruise in March, and can't wait. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
we choose this ship because of the itinerary We wanted to see venice and hearing they might close the port we decided to go for it now..Unfortunately before we could go the water problems happened but as of the week prior to our trip msc ... Read More
we choose this ship because of the itinerary We wanted to see venice and hearing they might close the port we decided to go for it now..Unfortunately before we could go the water problems happened but as of the week prior to our trip msc assured us we would be sailing out of venice.. We found out we would be bused to trieste when we arrived at the port on sailing day--no email or text- However they were not prepared for this and didn t have the buses to transport so we had to wait several hours with no one knowing what was happening Finally after 2 !/2 hours arrived at ship Immediately barraged by a line of servers pushing the drink pkg We had purchased a package but were now informed it only included a few choices We had already upgraded to a suite that didn t include any perks so we upgraded Our room was very nice-lots of closets space and drawers and I proceeded to unpack as is my usual. When I returned to the room later to get dressed I opened my drawer and my personal items were missing-empty space on one side of the drawer. Went to customer service and reported- told to come back after they consulted superviser and they may want to do a room search I kept going back and it became a joke that they were all getting a laugh out of . finally insisted on speaking to supervisor and was taken back to our room with 2 security people who did a thorough room search-was told had to consult corporate. A missing item form that i filled out the first day was left on my bed the last morning and i was told someone would be in touch with me.. I did the survey when we returned as instructed and no one has contacted me nor can i get through on any web site. We overspent on this "once in a lifetime cruise" and regret it. Our bed linens were not changed the entire week altho he did keep the bathroom very clean, the quality of the food was not good and when we called to ask for our tissues to be replaced because my allergies were extremely bad, we were told we weren't eligible to get any even tho we were in a suite. The ship seemed to go downhill as the week went on. We did get to see wonderful sights and places but I wouldn't recommend this ship to anybody. We cruise quite often and have been on msc seaside which impressed us with the cleanliness and attention. most likely we won't be using msc as a vacation again. I have tried every web site I can find to contact and hit walls Very very poor To end this we again were bused out of trieste back to venice port and were just left in an empty parking lot (since the port was closed) with no means of transportation our of the port except walking a long distance carting all our luggage out of the port to the people mover to get into venice city to get a cab to our hotel There were maybe 3 msc employees who didn t seem to know any more than we did. A wonderful ending Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
The ship was due to sail from Venice and we were advised that due to the weather, it was now leaving from Trieste but we needed to check in at Venice at usual from 11am. Of course, the weather is not their fault. We arrived early at ... Read More
The ship was due to sail from Venice and we were advised that due to the weather, it was now leaving from Trieste but we needed to check in at Venice at usual from 11am. Of course, the weather is not their fault. We arrived early at 10:30 and proceeded to check in, it was fairly fast, we had done it online and the staff were fast to label our cases and clear us to the departure lounge, at this time we notices three empty buses outside the door and a couple more in the car park, all good, they told us it was 90 minutes to Trieste and we would be on our way at noon, maybe 12:30. At this time there was nowhere to get a drink and even though it was still not 11am, there were about 100-150 people in the lounge. We were given ticket number 12. For the best part of an hour no-one seemed to leave and when I asked, I was told we were on bus number 12, first in line were priority passengers, then number 10, 11 and then us. The buses were still there, empty, they were making everyone wait until the priority passengers were on the way, except... they hadn't arrived yet. When there were no announcements that you could hear and by the time we got on a bus for the 120km (at 57kph) journey at 13:50, no one was checking tickets and clearly we could have just got on the bus. Upon arrival at port, they take your boarding documents and say welcome aboard, your cabin is ready... erm, I've just given you the only thing with my cabin number on it... Grumpy passengers were everywhere but hey, we're on vacation and, this was SO cheap! From the moment you set foot on board, the staff are hassling you to take out the drink packages, we booked ours before departure but then they hassle you to upgrade it for another 10 euro per person per day. The ship is either garish or stunning depending on your frame of mind, we loved it, it shouted VACATION! Loads of places to sit and lots of comfort. The easy drinks package pays for itself at about 6 alcoholic drinks per day, or 11 coffees, we broke even on it but it is a tiny bit limited, of course, the staff are all top notch professionals and although, for example, a pina colada is not part of the deal, a virgin pina colada is, and so is white rum, they even give you a stirrer. The cabin, is what it is, we went inside, 9th floor, fore and it was really well sound insulated, the climate control is just about ok but as soon as you take your card out of the slot, it all goes off apart from the bathroom. Charge your stuff in there if you need to (shhh) You need a long lead though, the socket in in the roof. The 3rd bed is always a pain in these, you always bang your head on it. Like everything on the ship, it was spotless and given that the day after we left, it was going into dry dock for a deep clean, everything was in great order. Entertainment, it's a bit "MEH" lots of duos and shouty cruise staff better suited to a kids club. Theres a 4d cinema, never saw it used. Short ten pin bowling, a pool table, a tennis court, ping pong. Pools - the indoor pool was 77degrees and the outdoor pool was drained (it IS december) the hot tubs seat 6, but have a capacity of 4! There was 4 of them in use and 2 on the upper open deck roped off. The itinerary was superb, but that changes week to week The food. Oh dear. If you like bland, you'll love it as long as you don't also like variety. 4 pizzas every day seemingly from a selection of 6 in total. Filleted fish every day, with bones in. usually one roast meat, mostly pork, occasionally beef. Vegan? don't bother. Desserts - lots of little cakes, the same fruit all week fro breakfast lunch and dinner Late night sandwiches were nice, but no variety Best thing on the menu? 4-5pm burgers, bland and tasteless but with enough jalapenos, pretty good. Restaurant service was "ok" Menu was better but again lacking in imagination. We tried it once and gave up on it. Possibly more of a statement on our relaxed dining style. Only one "special restaurant" they really hate food don't they! The shops on board were brilliant, always a sale on though, but always still overpriced but a good range and actually, some of the MSC branded stuff was excellent value The casino has happy hours (NCL take note) with $3 blackjack and it's SO popular. Karaoke set up was superb (no I didn't) One other tiny but annoying thing, in the corridors around the cabins, it's easy to forget which way you are going, NCL have the fish carpets so you always know where front is, maybe a few arrows... just saying. I walked the entire length of the ship on day one, about 6 times before I realised where things were. The staff seem to be mainly filipino and all of them speak a number of languages, they are all so lovely and helpful, Beth and Amanda in the Sports bar get a special mention, but in truth every single member of staff we met was a joy to talk to. Would we book again? At this price yes, absolutely, about £55 a night, at "normal prices" no. Disembarkation was easy enough, followed by a 2 hour bus trip back to Venice. They tell you that you MUST put your cases out and you CANNOT carry them off yourself. Load of rot, we watched a number of passenger doing just that and no-one even commented on it. It's next trip is a 4 month world cruise, I rather suspect that I'd be looking for food ashore after 3 weeks of that. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
SO DISAPPOINTED !! My husband and I were on our 20th Aniversary, we normally travel the first week of December. We arrived at Venece to embark and the first surprize we recieved was an unexpected 2 hour bus drive from Venece to Triste, no ... Read More
SO DISAPPOINTED !! My husband and I were on our 20th Aniversary, we normally travel the first week of December. We arrived at Venece to embark and the first surprize we recieved was an unexpected 2 hour bus drive from Venece to Triste, no advance warning not even a bottle of water were we offered, much les an apology. We had booked the Aurea package directly over the phone, this being the most expensive package we were told drinks were included amoung other incentives, once on board the first thing we were told was that our package only covered drinks up to 6 Euros and 90% of the beverages cost more than the 6€ so we decided to upgrade our already expensive package. The ship only has 2 restaurantes aside from the buffet on the 13th floor and a Specialty Oriental Food Restaurant which wasn't included obviously. Food was HORRIBLE, we came to learn that apparently the ship would be on mantenance after this trip so it seems as though we were being given all that was left over on the ship in order to get rid of what hadn't been consumed on other ships. Chicken in wine sauce on day, chicken in curry sauce the next, chicken a la meditarena the other day, chicken and lamb in every which way you could imagine possible. We booked an excusion in Athens, the bus driver hit a taxi driver from behind, I asked to see the doctor once we were on board and was told that I'd have to pay separatly to have my head checked out after the crash, this is how MSC takes care of their customers, another excusion in Corfu riding Jeep and there were no Jeeps available for us so we were told we would could be provided with a shuttle bus to town but weren't sure that they could provide transportacion back, seriously. Entertainment was limited to one evening show at the theater, worst shows you'll ever see on a cruise ship. Costumes were old and music couldn't be enjoyed it just sounded like a really bad band playing from a box. Due to the problem in Venece with the rising water levels we'll be arriving at Trieste, Italy again at 8am on Sunday, our flights at noon, we asked to be provided with an early desembark in order to make it on time to our flight, the answer we recieved, we'll have to wait and see what is posible .... again seriouly !!! In a nutshell ... we've done many cruises but will NEVER again will we do a MSC CRUISE !!! PS. Our bed sheets had to be changed 3 times because of dirty sheets .... check your beds before lying in them !!!! Or better yet DON'T CRUISE WITH MSC CRUISES !!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Chose this cruise as it was a bargain. 2 x nights in Venice, 5 x day med cruise, 1 x night in Genoa. We had obstructed outside cabin. Opera is a very clean and tidy ship with an excellent crew. We purchased a drink package that was 29 ... Read More
Chose this cruise as it was a bargain. 2 x nights in Venice, 5 x day med cruise, 1 x night in Genoa. We had obstructed outside cabin. Opera is a very clean and tidy ship with an excellent crew. We purchased a drink package that was 29 euros plus service charge per night. I think we broke even and possibly drunk more than we would have done if we had just paid for drinks as we went. The entertainment on the boat was not the best but nether the less acceptable. The ship was full mainly of Italians and Germans us brits were in the minority. We ate in the main dining room for every meal and thought that the food was good but not gourmet. This was our first MSC Cruise and overall thought that it was value for money but not up to P & O standard and worth doing again. We were supposed to stop at Kotor but due to bad weather did not visit. Thanks to the captain and staff we made an unscheduled visit to Messina and did an organised trip up Etna. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Usually use Cunard, P&O royal Caribbean. Chose this as it was doing Holy Land. Never done all inclusive before but was pleasantly surprised by the whole experience. Cleanliness, food, entertainment and service all of a good ... Read More
Usually use Cunard, P&O royal Caribbean. Chose this as it was doing Holy Land. Never done all inclusive before but was pleasantly surprised by the whole experience. Cleanliness, food, entertainment and service all of a good standard. The jewel in the crown was the staff, nothing too much trouble, everything done with a smile. Impressed by the water stations on each floor to refill water bottles, no need to purchase one use drinking water bottles. Couldn’t fault any of it. Lifts a bit slow found it difficult to get one Good ports of call and the excursions in Israel were hectic but informative Didn’t bother with the drinks upgrade for an extra £50 per person as we found the all inclusive adequate. The food in the main dining room was some of the hottest we have had on any cruise. The full English breakfast was the best my husband had ever had Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We live in Cyprus and thought a cruise from Limassol would be very convenient, avoiding air travel etc. We left our car at the port, which was located next to arrivals/departures and the ship itself. We boarded the ship just after 1pm ... Read More
We live in Cyprus and thought a cruise from Limassol would be very convenient, avoiding air travel etc. We left our car at the port, which was located next to arrivals/departures and the ship itself. We boarded the ship just after 1pm and were surprised to find out most of the passengers had not departed yet. On other cruises we had to be off the ship by 8am. Marella had a far more flexible arrangement even allowing departing passengers to go on tours in Cyprus. The ship departs at 9pm, no doubt due to the late arrival of flights. The crew were very friendly and accommodating, always saying hello when passing by. Restaurant service varied from buffet style to waiter service in the main and specialty restaurants, which charged extra. The main restaurant on deck 4 offered fine dining for breakfast and dinner with open seating. It was also open for lunch at times. Reservations required at the two specialty restaurants and it is advisable to book in advance. The extra charge was worth it. We upgraded to premium drinks but the all inclusive offers a wide selection. Bar service was excellent with bar staff remembering your requests. Unfortunately smoking was allowed in a number of areas outside on both aft and port. Usually this is confined to one side. Deck 12 at the front, deck 9 aft promenade deck, deck 10 and 8 at the rear. However there weren’t many smokers. The show lounge entertainment was enjoyable but far too loud with some songs. There were a number of passengers with mobility issues who found it difficult to move around particularly when a lift was out of order. We booked two of the shorter excursions in Turkey ports. The guide on the first one was good but we couldn’t hear him at times as our group was too spread out. A lot of standing with little seating. We cancelled the second tour. Tried hop on hop off bus at the Greek island but that was vey disappointing. As it was winter some of the bus routes did not run. In Haifa we went by taxi to the Bali gardens. The taxi at the port offered tour lasting an hour for €50. He’d drove us up to each section avoiding the steep hill, which we found interesting. Glad we didn’t try to walk there. Overall we were very happy and looking forward to booking another Marella Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
A brand new ship, 150 other guests, many from France and Belgium as it was a a Opera Cruise. Us Australians were adopted by all and again we could not fault Ponant. The destinations visited, the tours, the food, the wines, the cruise ... Read More
A brand new ship, 150 other guests, many from France and Belgium as it was a a Opera Cruise. Us Australians were adopted by all and again we could not fault Ponant. The destinations visited, the tours, the food, the wines, the cruise companions, the crew..... you name it, all lends for a perfect cruise. We visited Greece, Turkey, Egypt and Jordon. Add that to our Antarctic cruise in late 2017. We are now ready for Patagonia in March 2021 and the Kimberley in 2022. We found the cabins of a good size and the balconies on the new ships perfectly adequate. Very clean and room service, along with alcohol, all included. On this trip the 12 non French speaking people ( although our French is fairly good) were give their own tour coach along with English speaking guide. We have travelled Silversea in the past also however Ponant seems to be more relaxed. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
This ship seemed to have a primarily European clientele. However, being American was not a detriment. Every staff person that we approached for whatever reason, spoke English. All messages were announced in English (as well as many other ... Read More
This ship seemed to have a primarily European clientele. However, being American was not a detriment. Every staff person that we approached for whatever reason, spoke English. All messages were announced in English (as well as many other languages). The staff on board were exceptionally courteous. The ship was impeccably clean and any minor issues that we needed assistance with were handled instantly. The food was great for the most part. Breakfast eggs were a bit bland and some people complained about the lack of deep fried foods offered, but overall, the food was of great quality and good variety. Only one specialty restaurant which was primarily sushi. The shows at night were amateurish for the most part with a few good points. Not much in the way of on board activities. November was chilly so not much deck time. Excursions were well organized, but not available to book on the smart tv. You needed to book before sailing or wait on the excursion desk line. Ports were great. Genoa a bit boring. People embarking at different ports so not everyone gets on all at once, which was nice. Tenerife and Funchal were my favorites. Long wavy ride from Malaga back to Rome. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Chose this cruise based on other reviews but very much a mixed bag Cabin was spacious and clean but a little tired and air con not very effective Ship showing its age but kept clean and maintained even during sailing ... Read More
Chose this cruise based on other reviews but very much a mixed bag Cabin was spacious and clean but a little tired and air con not very effective Ship showing its age but kept clean and maintained even during sailing Entertainment is always a personal thing but the positive response from the audience is always a good sign Service was not the best which was a surprise to us, we found waiting times in the main restaurant too long, at one point we gave up waiting for the dessert and left in frustration. Dining was our biggest concern, the quality of food was poor in the MDR and buffets. I need to be gluten free and was not happy with knowledge of the chef when I questioned him about the menu. We encountered undercooked potatoes, carrots, burnt chips and dirty crockery/cutlery all too often. During the second week of the cruise I took ill and suspect I was served a meal with gluten. I don’t normally recommend the drinks upgrade on a cruise but the regular coffee and tea, not to mention the awful wine on tap in the buffets make it a must. The coffee in the coffee shop was excellent but you have to pay each time if you don’t buy the upgrade. Similarly I recommend the 3 speciality restaurants as they provide the quality of food I thought we would get as standard, it’s £49 to visit all 3 of them though. Excursions were not the best as much of the time was spent travelling on a bus and the guides missed out a lot of sights. A number of people complained the guides were walking too fast for them to keep up. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We selected this cruise for the itinerary, The Holy Land. The first sailing day we had stormy weather. Lots of queasy passengers, very hard to walk around and several activities cancelled or rescheduled. This is one of the challenges of ... Read More
We selected this cruise for the itinerary, The Holy Land. The first sailing day we had stormy weather. Lots of queasy passengers, very hard to walk around and several activities cancelled or rescheduled. This is one of the challenges of sailing and -- it happens. The crew did a great job of communicating and making us as comfortable as possible given the circumstances. Because of the weather, our Sicily stop was changed to Crete. Personally, we didn't mind because we had never visited Crete. Our Ashdod port was changed to Haifa so we had an overnight stay in Haifa. We agreed, better to be safe. Unfortunately, it was a religious holiday and everyplace we visited on the Jerusalem and Bethlehem shore excursion was very, very crowded. Compounded by the longer transit time (1.5 hours) from Haifa versus Ashdod, it was not the experience we had anticipated. Nonetheless, we were able to quickly see religious sites that had enormous emotional and sentimental value to us. The Jewel is a little older, but well maintained. I have sailed on the Jewel before so I knew what to expect in terms of ship size and layout. It does not have zip lines, surfing, multi-deck slides, carousels, and neighborhoods. The Jewel is a good, mid-sized ship with some of the older ship style charm. We were in cabin 9256, which has a standard size cabin, but a larger balcony. The extended balcony has a nice AFT and Port view. There are passenger cabins above and below. It is very private and quiet. It would be nice to have a staircase towards the aft. Our aft cabin was quite a walk; on the bright side, we got exercise just going/coming to/from the cabin. The food ranged from okay to good; the dining room staff was very pleasant. We had Anytime Dining and our average wait for a table for two was approximately five minutes. The seatig wait time was consistent with a land based restaurant. The entertainment in the centrum area was quite good. It was usually a crowded area. We are in our late 60s and sailing in November allowed us to avoid too many children and teenagers. The children that were sailing were very well behaved. Our fellow passengers were primarily multi-generational families and couples. The shore excursions were as described, so no surprises there. We pre-ordered the excursions we wanted and used the ship excursions for most of our ports. The two exceptions were that we booked the Hop On Hop Off bus in Rhodes (small port city) and Athens (we had been there before and just wanted to get an overview). Yes, there were less expensive excursions available from private vendors...but the notion of being left at a port frightens me. We quickly learned, strenuous meant strenuous and made one or two adjustments to our selections after our first full day excursion. When we changed excursions, I wished the Shore Excursions Desk onboard would honor the 10-20% discounts we received for pre-ordering. Also, Easy Ephesus could spend a few minutes at the ruins for pictures and a lot less time hearing a carpet sales pitch. We had a great time. My overall suggestion for this itinerary would be to take the earlier sailing (there were only two offered in 2019), the weather would probably be better and you may avoid religious holidays. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
After 16 cruises with Royal Caribbean in three and a half years (Diamond Members), I can say without a doubt that this is probably our last RCL cruise. Unfortunately, I can also honestly say they probably don't care and won't ... Read More
After 16 cruises with Royal Caribbean in three and a half years (Diamond Members), I can say without a doubt that this is probably our last RCL cruise. Unfortunately, I can also honestly say they probably don't care and won't notice. Our first cruise on the Jewel was marginal at best for the ship but great for the ports so when we saw this cruise to the Holy Land, we booked it. While on the Harmony a month before we left for Europe, we found a great deal in the "Next Cruise" office for a back to back on Jewel so we grabbed it. BIG MISTAKE!! The cruise director and her activities director are screeching, pompous people that care nothing about the guests but only their own "spot light". Since most activities are packed around a small Centrum so you can't walk through the ship without hearing those phonies screaming. The customer service desk was given a nick name of Dr. NO by another guest and I could see why. Our second balcony was tiny, the drapes were ripped, the little two seat love seat they wedge in there was torn and dirty, the closet door was broken and nailed twice and nailed a third time after we spoke with our Loyalty manager who was great. We asked for extra sheets and covered up the dirty love seat. It was an adjoining bedroom and they hammered a love seat in it so they could rent is as a cabin. The bartenders were great, the food staff was great, our cabin attendants were great but you could really tell the house keeping and hotel manager never walked through the cabins. Upper level management at RCL think only of $$$. The loyalty only flows from the guests to the company and not the other way. As I mentioned, we will probably not sail RCL again and they really don't care. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
From the moment we arrived we were made to feel special. The embarkation process was simple and easy. Our room was ready as requested and our cabin steward was personable, attentive and learned our habits and likes. Our room was always ... Read More
From the moment we arrived we were made to feel special. The embarkation process was simple and easy. Our room was ready as requested and our cabin steward was personable, attentive and learned our habits and likes. Our room was always returned to impeccable. The MaîtreD, Alberto, was beyond amazing and welcoming to everyone in the dining room. He was attentive and ensured the dining staff was as well. He made us feel special. Jude, the Casino Bar bartender, was amazing. He looked at my card once, memorized my name, billing code and drink preference and remembered for the entire 12 days. He was amazing. The staff on board were so pleasant and kind and paid a lot of attention to the passengers. There was a significant contingency present at the disembarking wishing us well. I have cruised with a lot of lines but Princess is my first choice. I must return to enjoy it more but leave with great memories. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We chose this cruise as it was a small ship (660 passengers), was visiting places we wanted to see, and was when we were in Europe visiting other countries. Firstly our cabin was obviously designed for twin beds but the turned it into a ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was a small ship (660 passengers), was visiting places we wanted to see, and was when we were in Europe visiting other countries. Firstly our cabin was obviously designed for twin beds but the turned it into a double. What this meant was that when your pillow was in the wrong position it hit the light switch and turned all the cabin lights on. This happened several times over the 12 days. Also we were on the 4th floor above the gangway on the 3rd floor, every time we docked we were awoken by banging, crashing, and even one morning by an angle grinder as they prepared for disembarkation in port. One excursion we got absolutely soaked getting from the ship to the bus and had to sit for seven hours in wet squelchy clothes- not good. As it was a small ship you had only one choice of entertainment each night and it was hit and miss as to quality. The acoustics in the dining room were so noisy that my poor father, who wears hearing aids, couldn’t have them turned on so missed out on conversations in the end we had buffet dinners. Also when did you go to a fine dining restaurant and have Purcel squirted into your hands as you entered??? No free bottled water??? Even on the trains in Europe you get a free bottle of water, also free in every hotel - no Princess wanted USD $7 for a bottle of water !!! We have decided that as a family we are never going on a cruise again Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We boarded the Magnifica the day that Venice flooded - the water was already calf-deep in the morning, very sad. The boarding process was very smooth, and so was our departure. Our interior cabin was always clean and well tended; ... Read More
We boarded the Magnifica the day that Venice flooded - the water was already calf-deep in the morning, very sad. The boarding process was very smooth, and so was our departure. Our interior cabin was always clean and well tended; make sure you bring tissues (kleenex) as they aren't provided. The TV only showed news, news, and the view from the bow of the ship. You want movies? You have to pay for it. (MSC does nickle-and-dime you a lot.) The food in the restaurant was excellent for lunch and dinner. The Bistro was almost always chaotic, and it could be hard to find a table during peak hours, but the variety of food was really good, the food was fresh and tasty, and the crew took care that it was all hygienic. We didn't buy a drinks package and packages were pushed pretty hard the first couple of days, but otherwise the service was always quick, polite and friendly. We sometimes wanted to try more than one main course - the service staff was happy to get an extra serving for us to try, and was quick to bring extra vegetables if asked. The restaurant people were very responsive and the food was always hot and tasty. I was very impressed by the evening shows. The dancers did a great job, the costumes were lovely and the acrobatic performers did a fantastic job considering the sway of the ship. Each night had a different theme. The singers were really good, and a lot of the songs were in English. I was very impressed with their operatic performances. The MC spoke a great many languages and I think the crowd all felt included. The couple of dance classes I attended were fun. We didn't do any of the optional tours: they are extremely expensive and we were able to get around easily without taking them. Don't fall for the optional 10 Euro bus rides they offer to get you from the ship to the port frontages - the walks were often very short and bus rides not necessary. Sometimes there were even free port buses. My husband and I are in our mid-50s and relatively fit, but our mid-60s companions had no issues with the walking either. The stops were generally long enough to have a good walk and look at the place - a taste of each place rather than a chance to really look around. The only hassle with the stops is the crowded wait before getting off the ship, but the MSC security staff handle the exits and re-entries quickly. We had to skip Katakalon due to weather, and weren't able to dock back at Venice because of the flooding. MSC organised a comfortable bus to take us from Trieste to Venice airport. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Finally arrived home late last nite after a scary experience with MSC. first time and last time with that company. Ship is filthy. embarking is very unorganized and filled with long lines and no drinks or snacks. No one meets you and ... Read More
Finally arrived home late last nite after a scary experience with MSC. first time and last time with that company. Ship is filthy. embarking is very unorganized and filled with long lines and no drinks or snacks. No one meets you and handles your bags either. our itinerary was changed 4 times....never got to Israel- the reason we took this cruise- they subbed it for Istanbul instead....never got to Venice and docked 2 hours away from Venice and got everyone to the airport late and did not care. Ship is filthy- no had sanitizers were filled- all empty. not required either. yuk!!! buffet floor was gross and so were the tables and chairs on the entire ship. The staff are rude, and just don't care. The shows are like middle school shows- we went to one ad that was enough. No onboard activities on sea days. Food is terrible and plates and silverware is dirty. Food choices were minimal and meats were disgusting. Cabins were not cleaned and bedding was old and shower had lots of mold and water problems. do not take mac...there are many ships out there and this was the worst. i am done with that company. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
I tend to write long reviews, so here it goes! My husband and I cruised on MSC on a 12 day itinerary RT Venice and the Mediterranean. We are seasoned cruisers, having cruised on Holland America, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and ... Read More
I tend to write long reviews, so here it goes! My husband and I cruised on MSC on a 12 day itinerary RT Venice and the Mediterranean. We are seasoned cruisers, having cruised on Holland America, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Princess, but we had not cruised with MSC before. We chose this particular cruise because of the itinerary which included an overnight in Haifa, Israel and departure from Venice. We flew into Venice early to spend a few days before the cruise. Embarkation -- We took the vaparetto (water bus) in Venice to Piazza Roma and then took the "people mover" to the Venice Port. It was a LONG walk to the farthest pier where the Lirica was docked. If I did it again, I think I would take a taxi from Piazza Roma or take a vaparetto to a stop nearer the cruise dock. We noticed people still leaving the ship when we arrived around 12:30 pm. Turns out the ship had gotten into Venice late, so boarding was delayed. I must say that I had never seen such a chaotic boarding process. Signage was minimal, There were two security checks as well as the actual check-in with the ship personnel and then another long line once on the ship to turn in passports. (We later found out this was because of the stop in Israel, but there was no explanation at the time). There was minimal seating in the terminal and the entrance to the line to get onboard was in the midst of the seats, so you had to maneuver between people to get into the queue. There were announcements, but they were impossible to hear (and, of course, in several languages). Some simple TV monitors with instructions in several languages would have improved matters tremendously. Crew and personnel seemed harrassed and not very welcoming. We tried to ask about our cruise cards which we had never received during the check-in process, but no one seemed to know how that was handled. The first crew person we encountered out of the passport process tried to sell us a drink package and we had a definite sense of being herded to the buffet to await the announcement of the cabins being ready. Knowing that the buffet would be a nightmare of people, we decided to see if our cabin was ready -- we thought also that our cruise cards might be in the cabin. Our cabin was ready and our cards were on the bed, so that was good. We also met our room steward who was a wonderful guy! We booked an inside cabin -- it was like all inside cabins and was clean and nice. I will say that the shower was the tiniest shower I've ever seen! It was impossible to shower without the curtain clinging to one. There were dispensers with body wash and shampoo in the shower and another with hand soap by the sink. Towels were nice, the bed was pretty firm, and storage was about what one would expect for an inside room. We travel light and carried on our own bags, so we unpacked and then went up to the Lido (La Pergola). It was still terribly crowded up there. Food was decent -- we did like the much less crowded pizza station on one side nearer the pool deck and the hamburger station with hot fresh french fries on the other. The beverage stations with water and coffee (and juice at breakfast) were in the corners right by the doors going out to the open back deck -- very poor traffic pattern there and always snarled up. Beverage stations by the pizza and burgers were much easier to navigate. The lifeboat drill was one of the best managed drills I have seen. Very organized and the cruise card was scanned as you first arrived and it went quickly and smoothly. We LOVED the sailaway at sunset through the Venetian lagoon. The ship went by the most beautiful parts of Venice when the lighting was just lovely. If you go on Deck 9 to the very front of the ship, you can get out onto an outdoor deck right under the bridge. Hardly anyone knew the doors were there, so there was hardly anyone ever out there. There was also a staircase there to go to a similar area on Deck 8. The ship itself was nice -- nothing flashy, but comfortable. It did have some weird traffic patterns -- in some places, you could only go through on one side of the ship and you had to walk through the dining room. Other places, you had to go up or down a floor to go all the way through. A little confusing at first, but we got used to it. One thing I do like on the older ships are the open back decks. On many of the newer ships, these are taken up by aft balcony cabins, but on the Lirica they were all open and had lounge chairs. We spent alot of time on the back decks and also used the stairs there for quicker access to the Lido buffet area. We had early dining at 6:00 pm and a table for four with a Canadian couple. We got along very well with them and they were excellent table mates. They told us about a bar on Deck 12 on the back deck which we hadn't discovered yet. We loved this area as it had great views. I'm still puzzled why this area (it was the disco in the late evenings) was mostly underutilized. We played cards in there several evenings and it was virtually deserted despite having the best views on the ship. The bar was unattended and there was no music. I was really surprised, since the "crow's nest" areas are usually amongst the most crowded areas on the ships that I've been on. They did have a couple "private events" up there in the evenings that were closed to other guests. We poked our heads into a couple of the entertainments in the main theatre, but were underwhelmed. There were broadway production shows almost every night -- not our favorite, but we know that some like them. There were three bars with musicians and they seemed to draw some people into dancing. All in all, though, much less in the way of entertainment from other ships I have been on. The library and internet center is simply not worth mentioning. It was a sad little corner in Lord Nelson's pub -- a pub in which people could smoke. We knew that there would be much more smoking since it was a European cruise, but we've gotten pretty spoiled by not having to deal with indoor smoking. The smell in the pub was too thick to deal with. The smoking was also bad on the one side of the pool deck that allowed it. We had purchased a laundry package online before arriving in Venice -- there was no information in our room about it, so we went to the front desk to ask. They checked and told us to use the bag that our steward would give us and send out our 40 items at any time throughout the cruise. This worked out really well for us since we had packed light. The food in the dining room in the evenings was excellent. We were pleasantly surprised. The selection was good, portions were reasonable and our two waiters were excellent. Water is not provided in the dining room unless you have a drink package. Apparently, though, they have had enough North Americans complain about this that a dining room "water" package was automatically included in our cruise fair. We asked our waiter about it on the first night, since our paperwork indicated "water drink package" and he said, "Oh yes, that's the American thing." So we got a big bottle of water at the table each night -- and we could get more if we drank that one. We had to sign for it like a bar drink but then it was automatically subtracted from our bill. It worked out well. We specifically booked this cruise for the itinerary, especially Venice, Italy, and Haifa Israel. When we boarded the ship, we found out that they had engine troubles, so the itinerary times were changed slightly. No big deal. We had booked one independent shore excursion in Rhodes, Greece and ship excursions in Haifa (Israel), Limassol (Cyprus), Iraklion (Greece) and Bari (Italy). Unfortunately, a couple days into the cruise we found out that there was a spate of rocket fire and violence in Israel, so the ship made the decision not to dock in Haifa, Israel. This meant that 1.The other ports would occur in a different order and 2.The port of Istanbul (overnight) was substituted for Haifa. We were vastly disappointed, but understood how safety must come first. One incidence of violence affecting passengers would be a nightmare for the cruise company. This also meant, however, that our independent excursion in Rhodes (booked through Viator) was now supposed to be a different day and our stop in Rhodes would be both immediate (the next day) and also several hours shorter. We contacted the company as soon as we arrived in Rhodes and were able to cancel the excursion and get our money back. We were glad the Israel excursions were through the ship since they automatically refunded our account for those. The ship excursions were OK -- the places were interesting, but it's really frustrating to be on a huge tour bus trying to keep everyone relatively on task and on schedule. The shore excursion staff was VERY good -- they had the process very smooth, spoke several languages fluently and divided up the participants by language. There were relatively few English speakers, so most of the time we were paired up with another language and had a guide that spoke both languages. The multiple translations do take up a good deal of time, though. I appreciated the tour company that had the headsets for everyone -- much easier to hear and to gather people together without shouting. We liked all the ports and were pleasantly surprised by Istanbul since it was a last-minute overnight addition. Our weather was good, for the most part except for driving rain in Dubrovnik, Croatia. There was also historic flooding in Venice two days after the ship departed, so we could not return to Venice and instead docked in Trieste and were bussed to either Venice port or Venice airport. That had to be a major undertaking for the ship company to organize at the last minute! The seas were smooth -- except for the day we saw the waterspouts at sea! I've never seen that before! All in all, we really enjoyed a little taste of the Mediterranean and are looking forward to going back to spend a longer time in some of the places. I would be hesitant to sail with MSC again -- just not our style of cruising -- but if the itinerary and price were right.....maybe. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019

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